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tv   British Phone Hacking Investigation  CSPAN  May 21, 2012 12:35am-3:19am EDT

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the afternoon witness is mr. campbell, please. you are still from your hearing on november 11. i tell do you would be back, yes? you provided me with a second statement. you confirm if? >> yes. contents is true, do you, mr. campbell? >> yes. i'm going to deal with this by way of theme, if i may, mr. campbell. first of all, mr. blair hiring you in 1994, we have one version in your diary. another version which is very
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similar in mr. blair's book. the journey, page 75. he considered you as part of a short list in discussion with mr. mandelson. do you remember that? >> no, i wasn't involved in that discussion. >> right. it's unlikely given they were wondering whether you were the right person. and mr. blair said he wanted a tabloid person and thought alastair campbell would be the best. did he discuss that with you in terms of the needs for a tabloid person? >> no, what he said to me when he finally approached me was that he wanted somebody that was strategic, that understood the press and that would be able to do the job he wanted done. so i don't recall that being particularly he wanted somebody who was from the tabloids, but he wanted somebody who knew that world. >> by that stage, of course, you'd been political editor of
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the mirror for a number of years, hadn't you? >> i had been but at that time i was editor on today. which was then owned by news. >> according to mr. blair, i wanted -- i thought he was good. what i got was a genius. not asking you to comment on, but the hard knot is obviously some attribute which would be desirable in that place, wouldn't it? >> i think it's possible for somebody who is not necessarily a hard nut to do part of that job but i certainly think that the way the press and the media were developing, you had to be pretty robust. and not shy of engaging in difficult debate. >> in effect, you were head hunted. there were discussions with mr.
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blair in province, in mid-august. you talked half the night alone with you and did the deal. he said i gave -- that's mr. blair -- gave what assurances i could on peter. do you remember anything about that? >> yeah, i was -- i mean, he asked me to do the job. i said no a couple of times, and then i -- he asked me again, and i went on holiday and said i'd think about it. then he turned up on holiday. one of the concerns i had was actually that there would be two rival media operations going on. and i wanted assurances that wasn't going to happen. >> mr. blair says he was already anxious about gordon's people. is that the rival you are referring to? >> no, i meant when you talked about peter, i meant whether peter mandelson would, in a sense, de facto, want to do the job that tony blair was asking me to do. as it happens, although peter
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and i had our ups and downs from time to time, by and large, most of the time we worked well together. in relation to gordon's people there was a sense he had his own -- his own team, his own operation. i am very much a team player. and i want it to be clear that i'd be able to on the communications side of things to lead that team. >> nice portraits of you and mr. mandelson. peter would slip into the castle through a secret passageway and by nimble footwork and -- cleave his way to the throne room. >> this is tony's book? >> yes. and you, meanwhile, alastair would be an old battering ram destroying the castle gates and neither boiling pitch nor wind-forced doors would keep him out. that's not bad, is it? >> yeah, well -- >> he had great clanking balls as well.
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>> right. >> let's move on. did you sign a confidentiality agreement when you took this post in 1994 or subsequently in 1997? >> i can't -- i don't think i did. i signed -- i mean, i was covered from 1997 by the official secrets act. i can't remember if i signed a confidentiality agreement in opposition. >> in 1997, after the first of may, you entered downing street. can you remember whether you were vetted or not? >> i was. >> can you remember when you were approximately? >> i can't remember exactly when, but i can remember being told early on i would have to be. i mean, for example, very early in tony blair's first -- we were very big into the northern ireland situation. that was obvious. i was very much a part of that.
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so i can't remember exactly when -- i remember being interviewed in my office. i could probably find out a date for you, if i may be in one of those large number of books that you have on your desk there, but i can remember being told early on that i would have to go through what they call the dv process. >> yes. it might have been said that that was owing to the circumstances in which you immediately found yourself, namely close to documents relating to northern ireland? >> no, i think it was just assumed that i would have to be because of the -- in the transition, the their had been these discussions with robin butler who was at the time the cabinet secretary. jonathan powers but going to be chief of staff. i was going to be press secretary. i think it was assumed we would be involved in all the kind of sensitive policy areas that tony blair was going to be taking charge of. so, for example, we were very quickly we were president of the
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european union. there were lots of nato issues going on. so i think there was an assumption from the word go that i would be. >> i think what i was trying to ascertain. it may be very difficult to differentiate this, whether there was a reasonable principle which caused you to be vetted or a series of obvious circumstances which rendered it desirable. i'm not sure it's possible to say which, is it? >> i think it was the former. i think it was the former. i think there was -- i think it was made clear to jonathan powell and me that we would have to go through that process. >> okay. the next is the murdoch press when you look at paragraph nine of your statement, which is our page 07 -- sorry 00795. >> yeah. >> in essence you explain that it was a neutralization
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strategy, but you ended up doing well the better than that. it sums it up, doesn't it? >> yep. >> the reasons from your perspective are pretty obvious. evisceration by the murdoch press during the -- years linger over the 2002 election results. cause and effect could never be clearly established. is that right? >> yep. >> and then the iconic status of the sun. did you feel in 1994 to 1997 that the sun did occupy such a status or not? >> no, not really. i think they very clefrlly marketed themselves as having such a status. and i think that -- i mean, i say elsewhere in my statement about there was a kind of sense of hierarchy in which paperses were more important than others. and i think "the sun," i wouldn't call it iconic, but it was a significant player. and i think within the media marketplace, rupert murdoch then had probably within the press a
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greater share and greater power than perhaps he does now because of all the changes that have happened with television and internet, social media and so forth. >> put another way, was it particularly important for you, either to neutralize "the sun" or best to win it over, even if the word iconic may be putting it in a -- >> that was certainly one of the things that eye one of the things we discussed that night in france, and it's one of the objectives that i set myself. yeah. the neutralization strategy in a sense was to counter the influence i had seen as a journalist who supported the labor party and to try to ensure that we had a more level playing field where we could communicate to the public what we were trying to do and the changes we were trying to make.
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>> in terms of which paper was the biggest prize in terms of either neutralization or best obtaining its report. did the sun fall into that category? >> it probably felt into the category of the only one that might, as it were, shift position. i couldn't of ever have imagined the daily mail. our approach vis-a-vis the daily mail was to stop them being quite so vile. our approach with papers like "the express" would have been to engage with them, but i would never have expected "the express" to come out for the labor party. and the broad sheets were in a slightly different space. the mirror -- i worked for the mirror for years. i couldn't imagine it not supporting the labor party. so the sun in a sense was the only one in this rather odd space. >> but i was -- although we set ourselves that objective, i
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don't -- i think if you'd have asked me in 1994, did i think the sun would back us in 1997, i probably would have said no. >> did you regard having to deal with mr. murdoch and his press as a necessary evil? >> well, i think it was part of the job. it was part of my job to help tony blair communicate to the public and part of that was through the media. rupert murdoch, there's no point denying is the single most important media figure. and it would have been foolish on our part not to have sought to build some sort of relationship with him. >> did you regard having to deal with him as a necessary evil? >> well, i don't like the word evil in relation to anyone. but i saw it as a part of my job, and i saw it a part of what we sought to do. i mean, i often -- as again is
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clear from my diaries, it was often when i didn't particularly like having to do it. and at times nor did tony blair. i think there were various points in my diary where i say we -- including just before the election, i have written about this at some length in my witness statement where the sun asked for a piece about europe and we talked about whether to do it and we didn't in any way change policy, but we knew kind of what they wanted. and i did feel a little bit uneasy at times. but there's no point pretending tony murdoch is not an important person in the media landscape. we dealt with him as has been well documented by all of us. >> the diary entry of yours for the 29th of january, 1997, t.b. was due to see murdoch on monday and said it angered him the meeting mattered. but it did. so that suggests -- that may be
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putting it too high but still a degree of distaste. would that be closer to it? >> yeah, at times, yeah. >> and also the perception rightly or wrongly that the meeting did matter because it was part and parcel of winning over his support? >> yep. >> might be better rather than to say necessary evil to say necessary obligation rather than something you went about because you wanted to do it. >> there wasn't an obligation. we didn't have to do it. we could have chosen -- the labor party for some years after the dispute had nothing to do with the murdoch papers whatever. we made an active choice to change that approach and in the diary, he's not happy about that at times. so we made a choice, and the choice was that part of the -- if you like -- part of what new labor was trying to do was show there was no part of public opinion we were scared of. no part of public opinion we didn't think we could take our message and in opposition,
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getting your message through to the public is hard, if you don't have access to the press. >> isn't that a little bit why it was actually, for you, and the perception you had, an obligation? >> i'm not saying by that that it was something you couldn't not -- >> okay. i infer from obligation a sense of duty. i don't think we had the duty to do that. i think particularly it would have been -- it would have been lacking good sense not to have done it. >> it's the relationship that -- and the perception of the significance of the relationship that actually runs through the whole thing, isn't it? >> yeah, yeah. >> given that mr. murdoch was not quite in the same place politically as new labor, did not a very factor trying to obtain his support entail to making compromises by new labor? >> i don't think so because i don't think as it were, we went out to him and said rupert would
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really like you to back this. and i say in my statement, far more important. and this isn't just about murdoch. because murdoch is the biggest figure and because the phone hacking has led to this inquiry. there's been a huge amount of focus on him. this goes right across the media panoply. we had strategies for all of these papers. and we had approaches out to all of these. but i certainly think with mr. murdoch, for example, you asked me in the questions in advance about the visit to the cayman island. it gave us an opportunity to, in a sense, use that event as a broader public platform and it gave us an opportunity to set out for a huge number of editors and execute ifr ives from aroun world what new labor was about. i think it would have been crazy not to do that. >> did you have any previous dealings, as it were, with mr. murdoch when you worked for
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today because that was -- that paper was then in the murdoch stable, wasn't it? >> essentially we turned today from a broadly right of center paper to a broadly left of center paper and i don't ever recall rupert murdoch interfering on any level with what we were trying to do there. obviously, he spoke to richard scott from time to time, but -- and i would compare that with, for example, when i worked with robert maxwell who did have a fairly interfering approach. >> when we move forward into '95 and you begin to have personal dealings with mr. murdoch, you are doing that really from without much prior experience of him is that right? >> yeah. >> paragraph nine of your statement, 00795, you say about
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eight lines down that you believe the sun backed us because they knew we were going to win. we did not win because they backed us. >> yeah. >> it's part of the thinking there that mr. murdoch likes to back winners or not? >> yeah. look. i think rupert murdoch has very, very -- he has a very strong set of political beliefs. he's fundamentally right wing on most issues. i think he's somebody who -- he's a news man. he's very, very interested in stories. he's interested in powerful people. but i think there is a sense that he likes to back winners. and i think -- as i said to you this morning it was by then, fairly obvious that we were probably going to win the election. but i do think sometimes that this point about the perceived power that people talk of
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newspapers that dictate elections, i just don't buy it. the last election, david cameron had the endorsement of, you know, virtually all of the newspapers and didn't get a majority. so i think we've got to be careful about this. where i think they have an influence is in the establishment of an overall agenda in which the political environment and debate then plays out. >> let me just ask you to comment on a paragraph in mr. powell's book which is page 190. he's giving his perception of what was happening at this time. our primary target was rupert murdoch and tony went out of his way to woo him. do we agree with that? >> i don't like the word woo, but he was certainly the most important media player, without a doubt. >> and then mr. powell continues, i've been told by the sunday timss correspondent in washington that the american economist and columnist irwin steltzer was a confidante of murdoch in the best way into
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him. do you agree with that? >> no, i think the best way into rupert murdoch was via rupert murdoch. >> well, maybe mr. powell is putting it just a notch too high, but if mr. murdoch is not available, the best way to mr. murdoch -- i think he's suggesting is there mr. steltzer. does that overstate it or not? >> i think it probably does. i think from where we were in the uk, steltzer is a very clever, very close to rupert murdoch. but so were quite a few other people that we dealt with on almost a daily basis. people editing newspapers here. all sorts of people. >> one would certainly have to add to the list other individuals, is that correct? >> yeah. >> tony struck up a friendship with irwin that lasted throughout his time in government, and he helped tony win over murdoch. is that true or not? >> it may be. it may be, i think it's true
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that irwin steltzer became someone that liked tony blair, liked what new labor was doing, and probably was part of the discussions that were going on within that particular newspaper group. but i think we were always conscious that in terms any of decision that there would been who they would back in the 1997 election, that would be -- that was a decision that would ultimately be made by one man. >> mr. powell talks about the trip to hayman island which we all know about. and continues, tony put great efforts into maintaining the relationship right throughout his time in government and thereafter. >> yeah. and the issue of any trade-offs, mr. campbell, this is paragraph 49 of your witness statement. age 0083.
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can i deal with it bluntly in this way. are you able to assist the inquiry from your own knowledge of any evidence which would suggest that an express deal was made between mr. murdoch and mr. blair or mr. blair's government? >> i don't think there ever was such a deal. >> can we be clear, mr. campbell, what that answer is based on? i'm not asking you to comment. i'm just asking you from your own knowledge. if you knew of such a deal, you would tell us because i've asked you to tell us. do you have any evidence of such deal? >> no. absolutely not. >> in terms of the possibility of implied trade-offs for unspoken supplications. paragraph 49, you refer there to
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the -- i think we probably asked you to look at the big, bad comment which is mr. paul keating who is then the labor prime minister in australia, wasn't he? >> yeah. >> you cover this in your diaries, volume 1 pages 247 and following. you set out part of the citat n citation. page 247. on the 16th of july 1995, on murdoch, he told t.b., he's a big, bad bastard and the only way you can deal with him is to make sure you can be a big, bad bastard, too. you can do deals with him without ever saying a deal is done.
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but the only thing he cares about is his business. and the only language he respects is strength and then a little bit later on you say if he thinks you are a winner, he prefer to be with you than against you. >> yep. >> obviously, mr. campbell, you weren't taking notes while this conversation was going on, but you record it that evening in your diary. how does it come about when we see it in inverted comments? >> i mean, i did actually quite often take notes in meetings. but that -- i can remember that -- i can't remember exact words in that conversation, but i can remember paul keating's advice very clearly. and it was -- it was good advice. i think he said later, he said you have to -- this is keating again. you have to remember with rupert, it's all about rupert. rupe cert number one, two, three and four as far as rupe cert is
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concerned. they overestimate the importance of their support for you, but if you can get it, have it. if you are labor you need all the help you can get to win elections. this is paul keating. he's had some considerable experience of dealing with rupert murdoch. >> yes, that's a page 249. the last paragraph, really, for the entry for that day. >> yeah. >> the difference today, overestimating the importance of their support for you, the they is a reference to the murdochs, is it? >> yeah. >> i think that relates to the point i made earlier. i think newspapers do overstate their own importance, and i think politicians overstate it as well in terms of endorsements of elections. >> just mr. keating's, you can do deals with him without ever saying a deal is done. was he suggesting there, it's done on a nod and a wink or was he suggesting something else? >> no, i think what he's saying
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there is actually explained by what he goes on to say in that he's -- he needs to know, is the big bad bastard point, he needs to know that you can be as tough as you need to be. and i think that -- you see, again, i think in relation to this whole area of policy, for me, there's been all this focus on our media management techniques and so forth and, you know, endless books written about it and so forth. i don't think it's that important. what would be wrong is if there ever were the kind of trade-off that you were talking about. and i don't think there's any evidence of such a trade-off. and on the contrary, i think that if you had talked to people who worked at sky, they would -- i think they would argue that rupert murdoch's political profile and the sort of general media neurologist surrounding
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him led to decisions being made with greater scrutiny upon sky than might have been other companies. i mean if you just look at the big policy decisions we took, the biggest in the media sphere was probably the rise in the bbc license fee. now they weren't terribly happy about that. i think mr. murdoch said in his evidence, not happy about that. he tried to take over manchester united and was blocked. the digital takeover, digital search, there were differences. itv, channel 5. lots of areas where you'd be hard pressed to say that the murdochs were -- and the murdoch businesses were getting a good deal out of the labor government. >> just to what mr. keating was saying, wasn't he simply saying this, that unless mr. murdoch thinks that you, too, are a big, bad bastard, there's no point even thinking you can do a deal with him because he'll think that you're weak.
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the way he operates are through implied deals. isn't that the message mr. keating was trying to get across to you? >> i don't think so. i think he was saying -- what he says in that broader context that i've set out in the statement. but i certainly think that the rupert murdoch would have been -- might have been thinking that historically, he'd have, for obvious reasons, this very, very difficult relationship with the labor party. it looked like there was going to be a labor government. historically our policy positions would in a sense have gone after the murdoch empire, cl weather it was cross media ownership or whatever it might have been. so my point is that i never was witness to and don't believe that anything that was ever a discussion that said now tony if you do this and you do this and you do this, my papers will back you. it just never happened. and i also think, as i've gone through some of the issues that tony blair went through these and the government went through these issues on their merits.
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>> okay. now i come to the issue of an implied tradeoff. paragraph 13 of your statement. you deal there with the sun in 1997. before i come to that, do you agree with mr. price's view, this is mr. lawrence price, that plans to limit cross media ownership in a way which would have restricted murdoch's empire had been quietly dropped by the labor party within six months of blair's visit to australia in 1995? >> we changed the policy. we changed the position. >> noisily dropped then. >> well, i think lance was trying to kind of feed into and play up to the idea of some sort of conspiracy.
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there was none. tony blair wasn't terribly keen on the cross -- the cross media policy we had up until then. i set out in my statement what his general position was with regard to cross media ownership. >> so the atribution of cause and effect, which mr. price sees in the sequence of events you don't believe is correct? >> no, i don't. >> do you have any discussions with mr. blair about the change in cross media ownership policy? >> i must have done. must have done. >> did he mention in any way the impact the change might have or more exactly the existing policy would have had on the murdoch press? >> not that i specifically recall, but it would certainly have been a factor. it would have been a factor. >> so the change in policy was
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beneficial to the murdoch press, and that was part of the thinking, was it? >> no, what i mean by -- a part of his thinking would be, in any policy making process, part of your thinking will be about how this will be perceived, written up and so forth. but tony blair's view on cross media ownership was that he was not in favor of changes in the position on cross media ownership that would lead to the closure of titles. he was in favor of trying to broaden the market and open up the market to new media owners. so it was a principle policy position that just happened to differ from the one we'd held when neil and -- was leader of the labor party. >> okay. can i deal with the sun piece in
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1997 which you refer to in paragraph 13. i think we saw this with mr. murdoch himself. the actual piece which mr. blair wrote shortly before the 1997 election. was in march 1997. it was made clear to me by the editor that if mr. blair were to emphasize the point that there would be no entry into the euro without a specific referendum on the, that he understood people's fears about so-called european superstate. it was likely to be the final piece of the jigsaw before mr. murdoch agreed the paper would back labor. you describe that as purely a question of rhetoric. but wasn't that specifically a matter of policy or at least something which mr. blair did which he would not otherwise have perhaps wanted to do? >> no. in terms of -- the policy was
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already set. the policy was set. and we did have a discussion. i remember we did have a discussion about whether it was sensible to do this piece at that time. and as i say, i go on to say that it was fantastically irritating on one level. we have to go through these kind of routines. we'd be daft not to try it. i don't think we did change policy. i will admit to being a little queasy about the -- i think the headline was why i love the pound. and it was -- so i was a little queasy about that. i will be honest about that. but i don't think on policy anything was ever traded with rupert murdoch or with any other media owner. so there's an example of where the sun, mass selling newspaper, coming up to an election campaign is giving us half a page to set out our issue which
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is important, probably more important to the paper than it is to their lereaders. and we took that opportunity. i think it would have been crazy not to. >> you have to remind me, mr. campbell. was it part of the labor party manifesto in 1997 that there would be a referendum before the united kingdom entered the euro? >> yeah it was -- i think i'm right in saying it was one of the five pledges. >> i'm not saying this is ancient history because it isn't. it is 15 years ago and we're trying to remember. the article in the sun which i think was in mid-march 1997, that, obviously, post dated the 11-party manifesto, did it? >> i can't remember where we are. by this time, everybody knew we were committed to referendum. i'm pretty sure of that. >> so even if the manifesto had not been published, it would have been written six weeks or so before the general election? because we know the election was the 1st of may in '97.
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>> i'd have to go back and check exactly what was in the manifesto and when that was -- the manifesto would be published after this. certainly the campaign hadn't been announced. but i automatic-- i don't think announcing anything new in this piece at all. >> okay. >> so you were to characterize what happened as perhaps slightly irritating. if not causing a degree of discomfort. but amounting to no more than rhetoric because it didn't amount to policy change. >> can i ask you please about -- >> can i just -- can i say there that there may well have been positions, situations with either relation to the sun or other newspapers where the prime minister would give in to use articles of speech where he might set up policy changes and pass any policy change you are trying to get it communicated through the press. i'm making a point about this
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one, that this is an area where i say we were meeting them with rhetoric and it didn't. therefore, there was no sense of any trade-off implied or unimplied. >> the media set issue -- >> yep. >> troubled mr. murdoch. and it's clear that mr. prody made the call at the end of the day. can i just ask you about one entry in your diary, volume two, the 1st of april 1998. page 338. >> yeah. he said he didn't fear them coming at him about me, but about the relationship with murdoch.
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political knives were out for you at that time, weren't they? >> they were. >> i'm not sure this inquiry need go into that. we're more concerned with the underlying point. and then you say, and he, that's mr. blair, didn't fancy a sustained set of questions about whether murdoch lobbied him. >> yeah. >> so that's a paraphrase of the conversation you had with mr. blair, is it? >> yeah. >> why didn't he fancy such a sustained set of questions? >> because the -- i think i've quoted in my statement the -- what i said at the briefing on this. i said in a number ten briefing, the conversation with prody covered a range of issues. it had been agreed neither side would brief on it. this had been honored. the ft should not use an anonymous italian official to stand up a story that was wrong. of course, if asked, we would
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always say the pm spoke up for british firms. it would be real odd if he was the pm of britain and did not. this did not stand up the story and talk about the prevention in this way was simply wrong. it did lead to a considerable frenzy this one. and i think we possibly could have handled it differently. and the call from prody was not about this. was about something completely different, and prody asked for us not to brief on it. the ft then ran this story, and i refused to accept that this was intervention as they were presenting it. and what -- i think what tony blair is saying is that he was worried, actually, that that was -- standing up in the house of commons, sustained set of questions about why is this not intervention? i think he found that difficult. i've said in my statement, i was less concerned because i felt my statement it would be odd if the
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prime minister did not stand up for companies. in the briefing, journalists pointed out that my statement did not amount to full denial to which i responded i was not adding to the statement. and it's true. it was not a full denial. >> maybe mr. blair's concern was based on how all this appeared. >> by then it was a full-blown 24 carat frenzy. and it's one of those -- it's tricky because rupert murdoch had mentioned this company to the prime minister. and the prime minister, as i recall, we did have a discussion about whether there was anything wrong with him raising it. and then he didn't raise it until this another this phone call came along and he mentioned it and prody said to the words of the effect that murdoch is waf wasting his time and i don't think it went any further. >> but the origin of all of this
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kerfuffle was an express request by mr. murdoch, presumably made referring to the prime minister to intervene in a certain way. >> no, i don't think -- he was trying to establish whether words to the effect he was wasting his time trying to get into the italian marketplace. >> but even if it wasn't to intervene in a way which would necessarily produce direct results, at least to ascertain how the italian marketplace looked, should he put his toe in the water. that's what it amounted to, wasn't it? >> i wasn't privy to the call that he had and nor until this story blew up was i privy to the call with mr. prody. but i stood on that line for over several pretty lengthy briefings that i will refuse to accept that was an intervention the way it was being presented by the "financial times." that's where the delft came in because the press said it was an
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intervention, and i can see why. but, you know, sometimes these situations, you hold a line and that's what we did. and in the end, nothing came of it. >> you would have been an intervention if mr. murdoch was seeking an express regulatory favor, which clearly he wasn't. but he was seeking information from the italians, wasn't he? >> i mean, i know you're going to be seeing mr. blair and, you know, you'll be able to ask him because he had the conversation. my sense of it would be that he's simply saying, i'm interested in this italian company. i'm -- do you think i'm wasting my time? and i don't think there's anything more than that. >> the reference to helping a british company was not quite accurate since we are talking about one of mr. murdoch's -- he'd set up his own italian company for the intervention or looking back at news corp. which is -- >> i accept that. but i think more accurately, this is not a transcript. it's an account of the briefing.
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we're talking about companies with british interests. >> the other area we need to look at, and you cover it in paragraph 15 of your statement, his media policy generally. you do say in the third sentence of paragraph 15, ironically, the only area where i believe we may have fallen out of this relates to the area of the press itself. and then you refer to the current government. so are you suggesting that through fear of a hostile reaction, possibly even attacks, the labor government 1997 and 2010 were shy of taking on the press and bringing in necessary press performance in terms of regulation in is that the thesis
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which you say might have some validity? >> i wouldn't date it as far back at 1997, but i think as time wore on, i think a view developed generally in government, certainly with the prime minister and other senior ministers that there was a real problem. and i think that if -- i certainly, as i say in my statement, was advancing the case. if you think it's a real problem, then we should do something about it. and part of the thinking is to why not to do something about it? i think there were two main reasons. one was the one that the prime minister is talked about this before. that actually the public just wouldn't understand because one of the lines being run at us by the press is we had them all in our pocket. not true, but that's one of the kind of lines that was run against. the public are going to be confused as to why we're suddenly saying this is a problem. and the second thing is the public had elected us to do all sorts of things. press regulation was not one of
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them. so that was the points of principle. i think there was a political point of pragmatism that tony blair would have taken the view that it was not politically sensible. and, you know, it's no secret this was one of the few things we argued about. we argued about it over several years. >> we can quite see, mr. campbell, if we go back to 1997, which, of course, was before the death of princess diana, that included anything in the labor party manifesto which would commit that government press regulation -- regulatory reform, might have been a bit ambitious. others may comment on that. by the time we get to 2001 and in particular, 2005, there was a possibility, wasn't there, to include it within the government's legislative program, is that correct? >> well, there was always the possibility. as to whether there was any likelihood, i suspect there
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wasn't. but some of us were arguing that there should have been. >> and when you refer to concerns about what the media culture was, that's the second sentence of paragraph 16. >> yeah. >> can we be clear what the analysis is? because it may be set to fall in two parts. there's one, the political analysis which is the culture of negativity, the fusion of news and comment. the press driving the news agenda. all the matters which i know are deep interest and concern to you. can we put them sort of a one side and then the wider concerns about the culture practiced and ethics of the press, harassment, intrusion, breach of privacy. i know the two concerns overlap to some extent. but they are more concerned with the interests of individuals. was your analysis, which is what you referred to on the third
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line, did it embrace both those concerns, or any one of those concerns? >> both of them. and i think actually my first witness statement i set out when i talk about a summary of the debit side. news values in which -- whether something is true counts for whether it's t makes a good story. in which the weight given to coverage is not in proportion to the significance of the news matter being reported but whether it fits the agenda of the outlet. lack of anything approaching transparency with respect to the organization. and ineffectual regulation. and a culture dominated by the media themselves which allows inaccuracies, disfort yorngs unfairness, invasion of privacy and dubious practices and a culture in which any attempt to question or check the role of the media is met with denunciations, the motives of those concerned and instant claims that freedom of speech is under threat. some are what i mean by the --
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by the culture, i suppose i would throw in there the culture of celebrity. >> yes, you -- it's fair that your first statement covers those matters. and you are not identifying, are you, a particular section of the press or are you? >> no, i think the culture, i think it's where the center of gravity within the culture has moved to. so i think it covers the broadcasters. it covers the broad sheets and the tabloids as well. just to different varying degrees. >> and we know it's mr. mandelson's view. we've provided for you the piece in the guardian which you wrote in july of last year. it's under tab seven. >> yeah. >> you said the truth is, no issue of power to your principle was involved. we simply chose to be coward because we are too fearful to do otherwise. then he said, david cameron took up by the time tony blair and
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gordon brown left off. ignoring what happened after may 2010, would you agree with mandelson's view, we simply chose to be coward? >> i agree with it to some extent. i mean, he said there were no -- there was no issue of principle or priority. i think there were issues of principle and priority which i referred to a moment ago. but i do accept that part of the thinking of the prime minister and some of his colleagues was that to take on the whole of the press at the time when most of the public thought we got a pretty good deal was politically not very sensible. >> it might have been difficult to have approached this on a cross-party basis at any time between 1997 and certainly 201. unless you were to identify a
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short window of opportunity which opened after the tragic death of princess diana. is that right? >> i think it would have been impossible to get a cross-party agreement on slide. >> what about that short window of opportunity? >> i'm not sure there really was one. i think that the -- i think interestingly, from chris mullins' diaries as well, he was of the view of short window of opportunity was the same day straight after the election. i think that would have been very difficult for obvious reasons. i don't think there was, even with all the focus there was upon the conduct of the media post diana's death, i don't think there was that political or public appetite. this inquiry is only happening because of the specific set of issues that led to it. these cultural issues have been underlying it for some time. both the media and politics have not really faced up to that.
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>> do you detect an appetite now to do that? >> no. if i'm being frank. i thought that -- i thought the michael grove speech to the parliamentary press gallery was part of a political strategy. i don't think that david cameron particularly wants to have to deal with this, i don't think he wants to set up the inquiry. he had to do it in the end. i think he'll be in a very -- i think it will be very difficult for him not to go along with whatever recommendations or at least a very large part of the recommendations, the inquiry produces. but i don't think there is much of an appetite. i hope there is some appetite for the sort of cross-party approach you were talking about with augusta o'donnell earlier. but i wouldn't rule out the possibility of the politicians
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looking to see how this might affect their position vis-a-vis the next election. i would think there's some appetite for change but i wouldn't overstate it. i think there's quite a big appetite for the people who are no longer there. >> the general topic of the form of the press, in particular regulation, mr. powell, again page 206 -- see whether this accords with your recollection. we first discussed how we could remedy the failed relationship between the media and failed politics in 2002. in creating the right of reply that exists in other countries. do you recall that?
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>> i do. >> is he broadly speaking correct about the discussions you were having internally? >> yes. >> then he says in 2003, i -- mr. powell -- commissioned ed richards in the policy unit to start working on a commission, limits on ownership and privacy law. do you recall that? >> i do. >> we discussed the issue back and forth the next two years but tony never felt the moment was right to speak out, in part because the press would always have the last word, as it was, they would report -- it was they who would report and interpret what he said. does that correctly summarize it? >> yes. >> in 2006, he, mr. blair, now told me he would consider putting surprise legislation in the queen's speech on the subject, but he didn't. >> uh-huh. >> when he finally did make a speech on the media in 2007, that's the famous fell beast speech of june 2007.
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perhaps didn't receive the attention it deserved. mr. powell says it was too late. is that a fair sort of prospectus of what was happening? >> i think as i said in my witness statement, political leaders, even when they're the prime minister, even when they're in a very powerful position as tony blair was for most parts of his premiership, you do have to take accounts of the views of your senior colleagues. and there was no real appetite within the government, i think with the possible exception -- i was arguing on this track for some time. john prescott to some extent was. but it wasn't an issue on which the prime minister was feeling huge pressure. and as i said in the statement, there were large number of issues on which he was feeling huge pressure. and i think the other thing to bear in mind is that it's not unreasonable for politicians to take account of political factors. like the fact that if he had
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gone down this road, the conservative opposition would have been perfectly entitled then to use that to get much better sense of support from the press. and there was also the whole issue of the -- many of those books had gone into the sometimes troubled relationship with gordon brown. that would have been a factor too. >> of what became the communications act of 2003? that's obviously an extremely complicated piece of legislation. but it passed through parliament at a time when you were still in post, as it were, before your retirement. >> yeah. but i don't -- i don't recall being involved to a huge extent in the detail of policy discussion. and i do remember tester jewell,
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i believe secretary of state at the time, when she took the job, wanting it to be very, very clear she was going to be in charge of that process. and i do also remember her wanting to be absolutely clear that she wasn't, as it were, inheriting any kind of implied or unimplied deals with anybody in the media empire. so i don't know that -- i'm sure tess will be able to speak for herself but i do remember that. >> to be clear about, that she was concerned that as part of the inheritance, there might have been some sort of deal, as you say, expressed or implied? she wanted to be sure that there wasn't such a deal. did she have conversations with you about it or conversations which were in your hearing? >> i think she had conversations both with -- most important with tony blair, but also -- i talked to tess as well at that time. >> to be blunt about it, was she concerned to find out whether a
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deal had been done with mr. murdoch? >> yeah. she just wanted to be absolutely sure that she was not, as it were, going into a policy area where a conclusion had already been reached based upon whatever. so -- and tony blair was unable to give her that assurance. >> in your hearing? >> well, i know that he to give her that assurance. >> in your hearing? >> well, i know that he did.ablo give her that assurance. >> in your hearing? >> well, i know that he did. >> one key issue in relation to that act would be the decision to remove the restrictions on foreign media ownership. is that something that you were alive to? >> no, i don't -- im, although i was in charge of tony blair's media strategy, media relations, i was not -- i didn't see myself as a significant voice wind the
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media policy debate and i don't -- i can't remember what else was going on at that time. i don't remember being too involved in the policy discussions, in the communications on that. >> when the bill was going through the lords, it encountered some difficulty. and i think david putnam, lord putnam, was at the center of the opposition to it. did you have any discussions with him about that? >> i can't remember. i don't think so. but i may have done, i may have done. i can remember -- i mean, what months in 2003 are we talking about, do you know? >> i think this may have been in -- it would have been in early 2003 as it was passing through the lords. >> right. >> it took some considerable time for this act to become law. >> it's fair to say that after september 11th the year before,
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i was very, very primarily engaged in foreign policy. i do remember a conversation with david putnam about something else which was an education policy issue and he may have raised it. i couldn't -- i can't guarantee that. i was aware of his views, though. i think he was expressing them publicly. >> is there anything further you can help us with the passage of that act? >> no. >> particularly the concessions which were made to the law at the end of the day? >> no. >> go back please to paragraphs 51 to 53 of your statement. >> yeah. >> we're going back now to mr. murdoch.
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on the theme of implied deals. the telephone calls about -- three telephone calls just before the start of the iraq war in march 2003. >> yeah. >> i think you're being very clear what it's about, the fact that they probably occurred or did occur, but the substance of the calls you can't assist us with, fair to say? >> i can only give you evidence as far as relates to what i wrote in my diary. i don't actually remember the calls but i did write on march the 11th, 2003, about one of the calls. but i don't -- i don't remember the calls themselves, but i've obviously spoken to tony blair about one of them and i've written something in my diary. >> which is the odd, not very clever comment. >> yeah.
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>> perhaps doesn't throw very much more light upon it. >> well, only -- it does make -- it does appear to suggest that it wasn't -- >> let's not use the phrase implied express deal. let's use none of those words. let me understand what's going on here. the government was more than just contemplate ing contemplata war. it was obviously understandable if they wanted to discover what the reaction from those who were
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responsible for our media was going to be. and i could equally understand why a prime minister might think it of value to seek to get across, in an unvarnished way, unmediated by other press comment, what was really going on in his mind to try and put the best case, which of course is presumably what he was thinking about, for the conclusion he'd reached. but what i'm interested to know is where that leads. is it requesting support? is it neutral as to whether you have support? is it -- what's going on here? do you understand my question? >> yeah. i mean, look. by this point, as you say, it was perfectly clear where this
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was leading. and equally, it was perfectly clear that most of the media were opposed to what we were doing. and mr. murdoch in favor of what we were doing. i think it's also fairs to the prime minister, he would have appreciated that support at that time. because it was probably the most difficult decision he had ever had to make. it was -- it was the most difficult period of the time that i was with him, bar none. but as i say in my statement, in terms of -- i wouldn't want to put too much significance, given all else he was dealing with at that time, when he was speaking to presidents and prime ministers around the world the whole time, i wouldn't overstate the significance of a couple of phone calls with rupert murdoch. in terms of what i think is going on here -- as i say, i'm relying on what i've written in my diary. what i think is going on is
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rupert murdoch has placed the call and tony blair has taken that call and rupert murdoch is just wanting to have a chat about what's going on. i go back to the point i made earlier, one of the things i think makes murdoch different to some of the other media and some of what you saw last week, he's a news man. he's interested in what's going on in the world. so i think that's what's going on but i can't help you beyond that because i don't remember the call. but certainly at that time, it was -- it was a very -- he was in a very, very difficult position. and we were all -- in terms of the decisions that were being taken and the policy that was being pursued, it was hugely unpopular. we knew that. most of the rest of the media, either the papers on the left because they were opposed to the war, the bbc because of the
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dispute we'd got into with them, the right-wing papers, most of them because they hated tony blair by then, it was a pretty difficult media landscape. and whether rupert murdoch was kind of just signaling, well, kind of the last one standing, i don't know. so that's all i can really give you is what i've put in my diary on that day. but there were two -- according to the cabinet office, there were only -- between 2002 and 2005, tony blair spoke to murdoch six times on the telephone. three of those calls were during this period. and i think it's a combination of rupert murdoch trying to find out what's going on and also probably just saying, you know, we're going to support you on this. does that help? >> why would he need to do that? >> well, he wouldn't. he wouldn't. but i think it's -- again, i can't really help you beyond what i've put in my statement.
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but they -- i think it was the biggest issue anywhere in the world at the time. >> i understand that. but it's -- i suppose it goes back to the whole question of the the perception of the reason why this intensely difficult time which you've described and which we all remember simply from what we were watching and reading. we weren't involved in these decisions. and i can understand his talking to world leaders about this phenomenally important decision. that three times, he should feel it significant enough to chew the custody, talk to, listen to, one newspaper proprietor.
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and it's what it leads -- it's whether it is appropriate to draw any conclusions about the relationship. because that's i suppose worth thinking about. >> my statement in terms of tony blair would see murdoch, it was usually for a board meeting. i suspect having been in london during that time, would he see him for a cup of did tea, a half hour chat? he probably would. as i said before, he's a very, very significant player in the media landscape. but i don't think it's -- put it this way, i was, if anything, surprised at how few phone calls there had been when the cabinet office produced this record. not that -- as you seem to think, so many. >> it's not so many, it's just
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the fact of them against all the other competing demands upon his time. he knew what the view of "the sun" was. they'd made it abundantly clear. he didn't have to speak to mr. purchase dak, he could pick up a copy of "the times." >> pick up a copy of any of the papers around the world. >> yes, yes. >> yeah. no, i can see why you ask that. but i think that -- it is important as well to remember that -- we're looking at this now. you're asking me to -- people are making -- it's odd that i don't remember something i've written about, but i just don't. for me as well, there was so much else going on at that time. but it doesn't strike me as that odd. not least because by then, i think it's fair to say tony blair had very few strong supporters in the media left. and so whether one of these calls came from him to -- i have no idea. i have no idea. whether one of them was actually
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about placing the call, i don't know. i don't know. >> well, there's a limit to how far we can go with it and i recognize that. but i read into what you're saying to me that i should not read too much into the fact that the worthiest cause, notwithstanding the pressure on the prime minister's time and all the other pressures he's facing. >> yeah because even at times like this, he would have spoken to all sorts of people. and i think it's -- no, i wouldn't -- i wouldn't read too much into it, to be honest with you. and i know that one of your previous witnesses has said that, you know, without rupert murdoch's support we couldn't have done the iraq war. complete nonsense. tony blair believed in what we were doing and the government supported what was being done and so did parliament.
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and that was way, way, way more important than any newspaper support. >> all take just a bre. >> all rise. >> i think you want to correct something you said in relation to the five pledges in the labor party -- >> yeah, five pledges, i checked, it was not. but it was announced before the article. >> okay. i have 53 of your statements. the back door point. you say, there tends to be a media presence in downing street most of the time. there's no particular need or desire to advertise a meeting. makes sense to avoid the front door. but not transparent, that, some
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would say. >> i'd accept that. >> then you say, slightly tongue in cheek, partly our thinking was for the rest of the media, murdoch was uniquely newer ral jurisdiction. >> it's not tongue in cheek, it's what we thought. rue better murdoch went into the building, you started a whole flurry of what's he doing there, what are they talking abt? i made the point when i left in 2003, whenever i went back, i tended to go in the same door. it's just a way of avoiding attention, i guess. but i take your point. >> do you think there's something about the fact that we now make it -- we, the government, now make their links with senior proprietors much clearer, that u're going to get rather more concerned tt some proprietors get rather more access than others, and that's not fair?
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>> i would hope that what comes out of all this is not just a greater openness and transparency that you were talking about this morning. but also perhaps a greater distance in between the two sets of people. now, i think, as i say in my statement, i think there is a real public interest in politics and other walks of life, having relationships with the media that allow them to debate, be challenged, so forth. t i think we could get to a situation where there wasn't this sense of it being rips that get -- that just get mangled. the political, the personal, the commercial. i can see why you might think they're all just interwoven. >> well, it's a topic i would certainly welcome your view on. but we'll let mr. jay take his own course. then if it's not covered we'll come back to it. >> so there's one further point
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that is a footnote to page 634 in one of your diaries. you describe him as rupert murdoch's economic guru, often described as rupert's representative on earth. the second point i'm sure is flippant. the fir point, murdoch's economic guru. you were making a serious point there, weren't you, mr. campbell? >> i promise it's not passing it off. i didn't write all the footnotes. i think he was an economic adviser. guru, one of those words. but you know he was close to him. he was close to him. still is, i think. >> when mr. murdoch was not around and someone was talking to mr. stilt, is there a sense you were talking to mr. murdoch in some way? >> no, iouldn't say that. i wouldn't say that. he wasn't, as it were, a
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spokesman. so no, i wouldn't know that. >> tell us about mrs. brooks. obviously we've seen recently -- you y in your statement that you attended i think both her weddings -- >> no, it's only the reception of the first, the wedding of the second. and just on the first one, i was, as it were, independently friendly with the husband. >>ould you describe it as a friendship or a relationship born out of circumstances? >> i think it's difficult, once you're at a certa level in politics -- in fact, again, in one of these books, tony blair and i have a discussion about this -- i think it's difficult to develop friendships with people from any walk of life, where they might feel they can
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get something from you. i think we were friendly, very friendly, and i liked rebekah. but i think friendship overstates it. most othe friends i have are journalists and people i used to work with when i was a journalist. but i liked her and obviously because of my job and her job, we spoke a lot. >> many people have observed and some witnesses hav said these a consummate networker. is that something -- >> yeah. and i think she would see that as part of her job. >> in the late 1990s, did you assess that her star, as it were, was clearly in the ascendancy, and therefore it was important that mr. blair and the labor government become close to her? >> no, not particularly. i think she was obviously very bright. you always had a -- i had a sense very early on rupert
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murdoch really liked her. and i think within the rupert murdoch setup, you know, there's that sense of, as it were, bestowing his favor upon. and i think rebekah was a rising star. and i think we would have ensured that tony blair, as i say in my statement, right across the piece of all the media type, not just news international, that over time he would see most of the key people. i think that's what we did. >> on paragraph 64 of her statement she referred to being almost a constant presence in and around mr. blair's senior cabinet ministers and special advisers. would you agree with that assessment? >> i mean, look. even in all the papers, the prime minister and the government are probably the most covered people, even in the tabloids. so in a sense, what i would say
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is we were a constant part of her life, everybody else's life. i wouldn't overstate that. and it's -- no, i think that's -- i think that does overstate it. >> in terms of your mobile phone contact with her, we know mr. blair didn't have a mobile phone. about how often a week was it? >> that i would speak to rebekah? >> yes. >> when she was editor? some weeks none, some weeks every day. it would depend -- really would depend what was happening in the news agenda. average, probably once or twice. >> if she wanted personal access to either mr. blair or a senior cabinet minier, did she tend to organize that through you or not? >> cabinet ministers i can't speak for. in terms of tony blair, probably through me or angie hunterr sally morgan or one of the people around the prime minister. >> did she manipulate the
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increasingly fractious relationship between mr. brown and mr. blair? >> i don't think so, no. in fact, i think she was -- i mean, it was a very difficult part of my job. the fact that the press were writing about the difficulties in that relationship all of the time and i was having to be out there as an advocate for the government, explaining what we wererying to, do focusing on the important things, so forth. no, i don't think she did. i think -- i knew she spoke to gord and the people whoorked for him and perhaps they sometimes said things to her that they wouldn't have said to us. >> was she increasingly seen as having influence over mr. murdoch? >> i think i -- my sense always was the most influential person in terms of influence upon murdoch was rupert murdoch. was she increasingly important in the organization? yes. >> were ministers afraid of her?
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>> i don't -- i'd say ththey sh have been. >> do you think they were? >> i don't think so. one of the reasons why, even though it's fairs to i think i'm somewhat png at national now, rebekah was always very, very straightforward to deal with. there were a number of stories i dealt with her, very difficult for individual ministers. robin cook was one. sten buyers was another. where she was always -- we had a sense of, i had a job to do, she had a job to do, but we cou be straight with each other. >> was "the sun" ever fed stories by you? >> yeah. so were other papers. i would say we were one of the prime sources for every media
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organization in the country. >> so it wasn't a question of prioritizing "the sun," you feel, it was just part of your job to -- >> well, look. most -- we made a lot of changes from 1997, the biggest of which was putting the briefings on the record. most of my contact with the media was on the record-briefing. every single paper thought we favored other papers. "the mirror" thought we favored "the sun," "the sun," thought we favored "the mirror," "the telegraph" thought we favored "the times." you wouldn't win, really. >> in terms of "the mirror," at least 60 meetings he had with mr. blair. when mr. blair was prime minister. and you were often present at those meetings. would that be right? >> it might be. i think piers would also accept some of those would be
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receptions and what does that work out? six a year? is that a lot? piers was the editor of the one labor supporting newspaper. there was an annual lunch that we had at the labor party conference. but certainly i would be present at some of the -- most of those meetings, probably. >> obviously they were on-site. save of course in relation to the iraq war when mr. morgan in particular was hostile. was it a question of enabling "the mirror" to put the best possible gloss on stories? >> this whole thing about spin is overcome. the public aren't stupid. most of the presence of the prime minister in people's lives would be what they saw on the television. and when they saw him on the news and the house of commons. and so most of the discussns i would have had with piers would actually -- i mean, certainly during the iraq war, we had a
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fairly fundamental disagreement. and other situations, he would be and was often angry because he thought we favored "the sun," just as "the sun" sometimes thought we favored "the mirror." he was a editor, i was the prime minister's director of communications and strategy. it was, you know, an up and down but pretty good relationship. >> paragraph 46 o your statement, you deal with contacts with other parties as well. interestingly, you recall that. the middle of 46, page 00821. which his wife complained express newspapers intruded on their privacy. >> as i say, an irony lost on all but her and her husband.
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>> i'm sure this is an example of genuine amnesia. but i'm not suggesting for one moment that you might be misleading us. but anyway. paragraph 26, please. >> 26? >> 26 now. moving away from proprietors. moving to the more general. let me just ask a question about them. there's obviously much, much more contact, understandable between proprietors and senior editors with very senior government ministers and people such as yourself. than there would be for other interest oups.
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is there a risk, do you think, that that access can indeed work the other way so that therefore, there is a risk, which has to be guarded against -- i'm not saying it can't be guarded against -- thatheir particular interests, and that could be commercial or personal, by which i mean the paper, or it could be that which they are campaigning -- achieves a greater prominence than would be achieved by somebody in a quite different situation who doesn't have the same sort of access? approximate absolutely. i totally accept that. >> is that a problem? >> yeah, i think it is a problem. i think it means that the terests of one section of the
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national makeup does have greater access than others who probably should have just as good access to government. so i think that the fact of businesses owning media does give them a disproportionate access. i don't ca i don't think that's the same thing as power but i think that gives them disproportionate access. >> once you've got disproportionate access, the risk is -- >> yeah. >> -- that the influence is that muchore potent. >> i agree with that. >> now, using your experience, both as a journalist and as somebody who's worked in government and the rather higher grade view you've been able to take of life since you ceased,
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how can that be fixed? >> i thi openness is an important thing. and transparency. so whenr. jay said it's a bit odd they come through the back door, i think that's right. i think that -- i think i'm right in saying that, for example, the american president's diary is published. so that people can see what he's doing with his time. but i do think that it has to be -- it can only be fixed -- i say this when i address the point in my statement -- i think it can only be fixed if both sides of this acknowledge the problem is not just the other side. there is a tendency for those of us, if you like, on the political side to y, it's all your fault. there's an even stronger tendency on this side to say, it's all your falt. i think we can get beyond that. we're not going to get anywhere.
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so openness, a greater explanation i think from the -- see, i think the politicians have done a very, very bad job in standing up for themselves in terms what was their legitimate role is, what their legitimate functions are, how they have to engage witthe media because if they don't, they're going to get blown away. so there's got to be a proper reckoning of each other's power and each other's status. and i think that where we've got to is a position where some elements of the media kindly think they're above politics. and they're even even above the law. >> it's the point -- slightly different, though. i suggest to you it might b possible to articulate it slightly differently by saying this. that if the story's big enough, the rules don't count. >> again, anything to get a
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story. >> well, it's actually not quite -- >> a lot of the phone hacking stuff wasn't about big stoes at all. >> i agree with that. and i'm not actually talking about what might be criminal. i'm talking about a slightly differt idea. possibly i'm borrowing mr. morgan's phrase. i'm taking it out of context. let me start again. let me say this. we, e press, are not necessarily bound by the same rules that govern other behavior. approximate extension of that, going back to what we were talking about a moment earlier, the sense that they don't think anything will happen to them as a result of going beyond those boundaries. because the political class, the
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police as we've seen, and other parts of our national fe, don't treat them in the same way as they treat other organizations and people. and i think that's the bit we need to talk about fixing, that has to be fixed. >> let me add one other element to it. because i am going to ask y about fixing it. the other element is that whereas the press will look to hold col pigss to account, they'll look to help educational authorities, the judiciary to account, with rare exceptions, nobody is holding what they are doing to account >> correct. correct. and i've addressed that in parts and when we get on to the future -- >> yes, yes. >> but i think that is the point. they sit in judgment on and
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expect openness and transparency from every other part of our national life, apart from themselves. and that's i think why they're in the mess they're in. >> we have moved on. before you left the proprietors i wanted to elicit your view and i've got it. >> right. >> i know you dealt with this first in your statement, the concept of newspapers and power that i was seeking to bring the strands together at the end of this little section of your evidence. paragraph 260 and 9. >> yep. >> paragraph 26 in terms of daniel easily statement of your view. what about the thesis that we've had advanced by mrs. brooks, mr. day, various others, newspapers simply derive their power from their readers. do you agree with that or not? >> no. >> why not?
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>> partly they do. but for example, some of the smallest papers are the most influential. i think within any newspaper can at a certa point pick up a campaign, provided they do it in a professional and sophisticated way, they can make that campaign work. so i don't think it's just a question of circulation. and als i think that the newspaper editors make huge assumptions about their readers. and describe them almost as a homogeneous block. when rebekah talked about following their readers in shifting from supporting labor to supporting conservatives, or back the other way, the idea their readers are sitting there, moving in the same direction at the same pace, is nonsense. they've made that decision.
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then through their coverage they try to lead their readers in the same direction. >> i think perhaps in response to a question i asked, mrs. brooks accepted there was an element of leadership there. >> yeah. yeah. so -- and they're very good at marketing themselves. "the daily mail" presents itself as the voice of middle england. "the sun" presents itself as the voice of the kind of white working class man. "the guardian," the liberal intel gent yeah. that's the pfect thing for them to do. but i don't think that's in a sense where what you call their power necessarily comes from. i think it's a useful thing for them to say. i'm not sure it's necessarily right. >> a reader wouldn't ofourse necessarily have a view on a particular issue, especially of some complexity, until the
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agenda's set to describe, at which point opinion's moving in the direction the paper's taken. looking at paragraph 26. you say, your own assessment, this is three lines down, is they have more influence on the terms of the debate than actual power to dictate policy. >> yeah. >> so the determine terms of the debate were into areas such as the culture of negativity and matters you've outlined elsewhere. >> it's also what's important. i mean, a news bulletin running order is a set of decisions that are made by executives. if a -- at the moment, pornography on the internet, for example. "the daily mail," very involved in a campaign. perfectly legitimate, serious
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issue. is that more likely to make the politicians think that they might look at it, try to address it? yes. is there anything wrong with that? no. but that's what i mean by the terms of the day. i don't think they will necessarily then decide the policy. but i think in terms of where the debate is, what is deemed to be important. i say elsewhere in my statement, for example, the fact that issues like industrial action are most always covered from ap disruption. the welfare debate. that's what i mean by setting the terms of a debate. >> although the terms of the debate having been set, the political response which is policy, may reflect on that, may it not? >> sorry? what do you mean by that? >> if the newspapers have set the --
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>> yeah. >> then the political response, which is the setting of policy, may have been determined by the terms of the debate. would you agree? >> it might have been, but not if the policy-making processes are working properly. in other words, you can get -- i think it's always important to differentiate between a media-driven campaign on something which they say is important,hich they say needs addressing, then whether in reality it does when all the other issues are there. i think it is important to accept -- i think this goes for david cameron, gordon brown, tony blair -- that the amount of time and energy that they, not just the people who work for them, but they as prime ministers have to devote and dedicate to kind of dealing with what are ultimately media management issues. it's grown. it's grown and it's growing because of the way the media has developed. i think that's a problem too. >> then you continue, they only have pow if politicians let
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them have power. >> yeah. >> by which of course you mean it is within the gift of politicians to prevent press having power. but that might of course have obvious ramifications for free press. it also presupposes politicians are not going yield to the obvious influences and powers which might intrude on their decision-making. would you agree with that? >> well, i think a lot of this started under margaret thatcher. i think that newspapers were given a sense of power. the numbers that we see, the peerages and the knighthoods and the sense they were almost part of her team. i think it changed under john major. i think when we were in power, i think that we -- i think we maybe did give the media too much of a sense of their own place within the political firm at.
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when we should have challenged it more. >> talking about the conferment of power, one of the reasons why the newspapers have such power is the good reason you've identified, namely free press, i understand that. but the bad reasons, and you list three of those at t end of paragraph 26, you refer to the patronage system. the evidence on that you set out. but then the second and the third aspects. the privileged access governments of both colored allowed, the point lord leveson made, the reasons politicians allowed press to have power. is that right? >> yes. >> the efforts made to win media support. which is again another aspect of the same phenomenon, isn't it? >> yeah. i think we might disagree on the word power. because as i say, ultimately the politicians do have the power. i think all three there are factors within this that have led to a change that is probably
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unhealthy. >> of course t terms influence and power are n synonyms. one is weaker than the other. you prefer influence rather than power though some would say they're different points on the sa spectrum. would you agree with that if. >> no, i think power is a different thing. i don't think newspapers have power. i think politicians have real power. but i think that -- hopefully what comes out of this is a resetting of that balance as it becomes much clearer where power does lie. >> one prefers to use the term power in relation to elected politicians because that's what we confer on them. one doesn't like to use that term in relation to an unelected organ such as the press.
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really it's just a play on words, isn't it? >> no, i don't think so. if you look at decisions david cameron is making now, whether it was military action in libya or troops en route to afghanistan or spending on the health service or tax levels, newspapers can't do those things. and that is real power, which he has invested in him because he's the prime minister. newspapers can influence all of those debates. i don't think it is power. >> i'll move to a different topic now. >> maybe slightly -- different. but i wonder whether it is not rather more than mere influence. i don't limit the meaning of the word influence. because what nspapers have is what is longevity.
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and politicians tend not to have longevity. so mr. murdoch has been there or thereabouts for 40 years, which is a very, very long time. you make the point that he is the most powerful media owner, andhen you describe mr. dacre as the most powerful newspaper editor but doesn't that longevity give them rather more than influence? i agree, it is not the power to change the law or the way in which this country is run. but it is a very real for at the very strongest end of
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influence. would that be fair? >> yeah, i think in rupert murdoch'case it would be because of the point you make. if you sort of analyze power/influence year by year over the last four decades, as you say he's been a big player throughout that time. for example, i can remember being struck once in a discussion with george bush asking what rupert murdoch was like because he never met him. which i found quite surprising. and whether he's met him since, i don't know. but that was -- i think when rupert murdoch went to the committee and said, i wish these guys would leave me alone, i think that was a little disingenuous because i think he is interested in powerful people, people who make the decisions, make the news. i see it as a different sort of power. i think political power -- i think the political class is kind of to some extent ceded too much on this ground and needs to get it back.
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>> in other aspects of the relationship between the media and politicians and obviously vice versa, touched on in the phyllis report which we looked at this morning under tab 21 in the bundle we prepared. contexted in evidence section, section 4, mr. campbell. in background to the breakdown, page 7. they major factors have contributed to the breakdown in relationship between government and the media and the public. the communications strategy adopted by the late administration coming into power in 1997, reaction to the media and the press in particular to that, then the response of the civil service. latest past experience, government communications staff were not up to e mark, so a rise in the media handling role of politically appointed, unelected special advisers.
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their more aggressive approach and their increased use of seleed briefing of media outlets in which government information was seen to be used to political advantage, later reaction from the media used to far more adversarial relationship with government. while cause and effect there may be disputatious, it's inevitably mixed up. you would say you can't take this to 1997, you should go much earlier in time, your evidence says that. the basic thesis advanced here is not far wide of the mark, is it? >> no, although the scific -- the same page says the specific trigger for this inquiry, i think i'm right in saying, was the very difficult relationships between civil servants and special advisers in one department, department of transport, and also then the difficulties that we had in relation to what bcame known as -- everything has to have a
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ga gate, surreygate, and bristol flats. i think that was the background. then the difficulties with the bbc over iraq. so i think the relationship got into a very, very bad place, there's no doubt about that. and as i say in my statement, i think a lot of the media put the blame on us. i think we put most of the blame on them. and that obably exacerbated the problem. but i think it is -- i do emphasize, as i said earlier, that it's -- this will not be fixed unless the media accept some of their responsibility in relation to how all this developed. i've set out in both statements why i think it's happed. i think some of it's perfectly understandable. but if we just see this as a problem of government communications, then we're not going to get anywhere.
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>> usually when one's trying to diagnose the problem, it's sotimes not particularly helpful to dwell on fault and certainly rarely helpful to dwell on personal fault. but are we able to agree that there is responsibility on both sides of -- the. >> yeah. >> -- equation, as it were. the society, the press, and on the side of politicians. in particular there is -- i'll speak for them -- such as you? >> yeah, i will. but what i won't do -- what the media like to do is, until you say it's all your fault, we're not going to engage in this debate. now, this inquiry has actually finally led to it a slightly different place. i don't make any apology for the changes we made in opposition because they helped us to win. i don't make apology for the changes made in government because they helped us to communicate re effectively and i think that helped the prime
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minister to be -- to govern more effectively. what i do accept is that at times we probably were too controlling, that at times we did hold on to some of the techniques of opposition when we should have dumped them at door number 10. i also ask you to bear in mind just the sheer volume of issues that we were expected to deal with, be onop of. 24/7 media means just that. you're dealing with this 24 hours a day at a time when, in my case, also trying to be in charge of ovell strategy as well. so i think the points that i made earlier about the debit side of the way the media's developed, i don't deny any of them and i think the media has to face up to that. >> mr. marr in his book "my trade" under "the dirty art of political journalism" page 161,
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graphic accounts of a certain modus operandi, tales of how new labor had told reporters or producers spread through the wall of press gallery offices and between headquarters, the backlash was slow but it came. at the end of blair's first two years it was a badge of honor to be bollocked and shout back just as loudly. >> i don't really buy that, to be honest. i think that -- was i robust, yes. if a newspaper wrote something that i didn't -- that i wanted to rebut and refute would i do it, yes. but this bullying thing i think is nonsense, i do. >> persistent attempts to dictate what should appear on a front page or top of a running order became infuriating and hardened journalistic hearts even before the 1997 election it was obvious labor had spiestiving it off about the running orders, scrip lines and
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correspondents being used for news programs and attempting to ambush them before they went on-air to get more favorable coverage. alastair campbell and others would single out and ridicule the correspondents at hostile newspapers. george james, political editor of "the daily telegraph," studiously favorite of the old school, was a favorite target. did that happen if. >> you can ask george but i don't think so, no. >> okay. >> i suspect from the smile on his face, nor does he. >> maybe a different sort of smile, i can't see it. favored reporters were given special treatment just as though editors were made much of in downing street and invited to weekends at checkers. did that happen? >> there may have been some invited to checkers, not many. i'm afraid i don't buy this thesis, no, really don't. as i said, most of my contact with journalists who defded what i call the
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institutionalized dishonesty of the old system, most of my contact with journalists were on the record-briefings where they could quote whatever i said, any of them could come to it. were there some journalists that i liked more then others? you wouldn't be human if you didn't. i think that's just the way of the world. were there some that i trusted more than othe records? certainly. were there some for whom i had complete and total contempt? yes, there were. did i ever kick them out of briefings? no. >> he continues and concludes indeed, political correspondents had a certain alongside their professional -- >> that's what i call the herd mentality. >> yes, it's true. a cynical way some were favored because they worked for murdoch, others were sneered at because they worked for at because they worked for conrad black disgusted many who worked for neither. >> again, the person at the sun with whom i would have had most
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day-to-day contact was trechb cabinet because he was the political editor. i think it's fair to say trevor and i disagreed about most things. he was -- i go back to the point i made earlier. everybody thought i was favoring somebody else. everybody thought that anything that appeared in the press somehow came from me. the whole thing was absurd. but the absurdity i think -- and i say in the statement one of the best examples of spin done by journalists is the extent to which the issue of spin became so central to the debate. i had a job to do. my job was to brief the press on behalf of the prime minister and to advise the prime minister and other ministers. and i did that job in an incredibly exposed place. there are half a dozen -- and i know you've got a couple of journalists coming later this week. you no doubt will go into them in huge detail. there are half a dozen issues that get thrown back again and again and again and again. i dealt with thousands of stories. i dealt with thousands of
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briefings. and i would defend the accuracy and hontsz of thoesty of those y journalist any day of the week. >> without exception? >> no, there are some terrific journalists. >> no, no, no -- >> oh, no, we made mistakes. for sure. but given the pressures we were under they were extraordinarily few in number. >> a different perspective from mr. powell, page 194. ju to show that there's always a need for balance. >> i did actually read andrew mar's book over the weekend because it was on your reading list. there were some bits where he was very, very nice about me. i was raer shocked to read that. >> well, that's why we've not referred you to them. this is mr. powell speaking. "anna stow was unfairly criticized for politicizing the government press service. actually, what he did was to
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professionalize and modernize it. when we arrived it was in a parlor state and by the time we left it it had regained its confidence and become far better at what it did. the seamy side of political press briefing is the domain of ministers' special advisers and of course of ministers themselves. would you agree with that? >> that's the point i made earlier, that whenever anything appeared in the press that came from the government people assumed it was me but often it wasn't. i would certainly agree that the government communications system that we inherited was not fit for the purpose -- a lot of change had to be maud. robin butler, the cabinet secretary, was very, very clear with me that i had the authority to make change. he then set up the manfield review, which led to substantial changes. i think they're changes for the better. most of them have been kept by gordon brown and david cameron. and other people got up to all sorts of stuff. there's no doubtbout that. and part of politics is part of
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life. i tried to control at the center. i tried to keep a grip of things. but the reality is there are hundreds of people out there the whole time who -- anybody who works on downing street in the eyes of a journalist is a senior downing street source. anybody who works in the home office is a senior home office source. i think we did a pretty good job in having proper coordination at the center, but it's very difficult to maintain that. >> mr. powell points the finger of blame in a particular place. he says "it's the special advisers like the damian o'brieens, charlie wheelers, and ed balzes, not -- who specialize in character assassination rough the pages of the newspapers. what always surprised me was that the assassins managed to persuade the press to keep quiet about their activities. however many incriminating e-mails or texts they sent." >> that's a vryood point. in other words -- >> is all of that correct?
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>> well, no, not all of it because -- did you if you ask me to single out then i would single out charlie wheeland. i was always clear about that. and i was always clear with gordon brown that i thought it damaged him to have him there. likewise damian mcbride. the point i'm make -- i can remember, for example, one briefing where at the end of, yes, another frenzy and journalists accusing me of lying and politicians then getting roped in to say i should resign and blah, blah, blah. i can remember saying to all the journalists there in the room, right, come on. just say what the lie is and then provide any evidence whatsoever. and they never could. so just -- and that in itself is a form of spin. i mean, you sent me peter o'bourne's essay he did for the british journalism review. most lobby journalists he said have been deliberately misled or
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lied to by downing street. followed by zero evidence whatsoever. new evidence of a culture of deception, manipulation of statistics, secretive smear campaigns. he lists david clark, keith hellowell, the drug czar. no evidence whatsoever. and moe came to believe that we were briefing against her because it kept being written. and there's not a single journalist that's ever produced a shred of evidence. and that's way mean by them being the spin doctors. >> finally, they succeeded in building up a dependency on the political correspondents by feeding them constant supplied stories so the journalists were reluctant to endanger that supply by revealing their methods. >> correct. >> and that's why you -- if you look at david cam reron now, he the prime minister, he has his own media team. i don't think -- take someone
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like boris johnson. i'm not saying this is going on. t if boris johnson and the people around him want to be briefing the press in a way to underme david cameron they can do that and they know the journalists aren't going to drop e minute because it's too good a story for them. so we have that in relation to some of the people who work with gordon brown. no doubt. >> by the end of your time in downing street, mr. campbell, you were somewhat jaded, it may be fair to say, mr. blair points out, pages 301, 32 -- 302, pardon me, of his book. al astare was getting exhausted and ratty and he was getting set upon by the media, whom he was coming to loathe. he was therefore not handling quite right. well, i'm not interested in the bit about handling quite right. but you were coming to loathe them, presumably. >> not all of them. i was coming to loathe -- well,
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i had come to loathe the culture that i've set out in my statements. there were some individuals that i had come to loathe. i'd come to loathe their self-obsession, their obsession with me, thenegativity, the trivialization. i had come to loathe all that. yeah. but let me just say on the other hand, as i said in my first statement, some of them were and are fantastic first-rate journalists who i think were as worried about the culture as i was. but couldn't actually -- didn't feel empowered to do anything about it. but i was certainly ready to reach the exit door. >> lord mandelson, one of his concluding observations, it's an interview mr. warnersly carried out. lord mandelson referred to page 9 of mr. warnsly's book.
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there was a great emphasis on managing the media. the expense of managing policy. it was a sense that if youot the story right you'd achieved something and that's not how government is. do you feel there's any validity in that comment? >> no. i think the policy process was always taken more seriously. but i think we all spent far too much time sfoexed on -- and i speak now as the guy who was in charge of this. the politicians spent way too much time worrying about this stuff. >> what you said, media issues take up much too much time of the prime minister and other senior ministers. >> yeah. but just in their defense, it's very difficult when these full-on frenzies are coming at you. there comes a point where the prime minister will say i need to get out there and deal with this. my point is i think that i think they can have a lot more space
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and the public are much more savvy about this now and the more strategic the politicians will be the better it will be for them, the less they're focused on the day to day. now, back in the beginning when we started out i think we had to adopt the approach that we had because we had to recalibrate the playing eld. but i think now hopefully there's the window, to use your word earlier, to get to a much, much better position. but it's goi to require change from both the politicians and the media. >> well, you said politicians need to get political power back. >> yeah. >> how? >> not at the expense of a free press. i think they have to get a sense of their own power back. you made the point earlier about access. they probably dopend too much time -- look, diary secretaries are used to to being people off and saying no, there's not enough time in the diary. i think the senior politicians
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need to do more of that with the media. the great thing about the whole sort of change and internet and the media and so forth are the direct channels of communication now. just as the public can shape a different media landscape so can the politicians, and they should. but i think there's a sense of them still judging their success or failure far too much on what sort of press they're getting. when i saw them, for example, the list of direct contacts there's been between this government and the murdochs since the election, michael go, for example, i couldn't believe it. wasted his time. to my mind. better this to do. >> we will look at the fure again at the end of your evidence. i've been asked to put question to you from a list of different sources, most core participants. i'll do that now, mr. campbell.
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>> am i allowed to guess who they are? >> i don't really think it matters, mr. campbell. it's the question of the messenger. but feel free. paragraph 7 of your state. page 00794. in the third line you refer to taking a more strategic, a more proactive approach to communication. did this entail on occasion eck on mi e he can on mizing with the truth, which you continued to deny as annvention of thpress? >> i don't think i denied them as an invention of the press but i might have dealt with them in the way i felt would best benefit the government. you have to remember my job was not -- i wasn't the press's representative on downing street. i was the prime minier's spokesman. and he with talked earlier about the -- if you've got a room full of journalists who are being briefed by other people somewhere in the system that
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there's this problem and i'd be stupid if i sat there and said there wasn't a problem. but what i would do is say look, we're not going to focus on that, we're going to focus on this. we're going to focus on the budget. we're going to focus on welfare reform, whatever. it wasn't that i was denying, but i wouldchoose my words very carefully in how i dealt with it. >> paragraph 12 now. page 00797. the very bottom of the page you refer to the remarkable shift of opinion made by some of the murdoch titles on the issue of scottish nationalism and independence and in particular the movement of the scottish sun. the "times" made mr. sammand man of the year. you're not suggesting some sort of causal connection there, are you, mr. campbell? or are you? >> cause between what and what? >> well, between the support the
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murdoch papers were beginning to give mr. samman, in particular in scotland, and the "times" making mr. samman man of the year. >> i think the -- i do think rupert murdoch decided samman was someone he wanted to be supportive of for whatever reason. al samman probably was one of the men of that year. i'm simply making an observation. i do think there's a bigger point in that paragraph. i think the prime minister david cameron and nick clel nd and miliband are getting disproportionately whacked at the moment because of their stance on the media. i think it's revenge for who set this inquiry up. i do bieve that. and i don't think i'm alone in nap and i think the sport for
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alex sammond is potentially related to that. >> paragraph 7 lessons to learn. 00812. this is a more general question. do you not think the government's constant attempts to repackage hold announcements, we're talking now of the labor governmen vernment, e government's constant attempts to repackage old announcements stories and news and put the best comcomplex on figures create a legitimate thrust in what you were saying? >> i think again -- sorry to keep going on about the treas y treasury, but there was a time when there was so-called double accounting which was frankly stupid. this thing about reannouncing is difficult because the reality is that andrew landsly made a
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speech at the royal college of nursing today. i don't know whether he had any major announcements to make or not. but that would have been seen by the people who were there and there were bits on the news, largely about e hostile reaction to m. he therefore to my mind is perfectly justified in going on to another venue on another day and saying the same thing again and hoping to get coverage. is that reannouncing? i don't know. communication. what my definition of strategic communication is the communication of what you're trying to do over tie. i think retaining the med's interest in that is not easy when what theyeep saying is well, what's new? and when we talked earlier about the business of politicians trying to be more strategic, the media want news 24 hours a day because that's the business that they're in. and they look to the politicians because they're the most high-pfile peoplein the you country,ossibly with the exception of footballers. they look to them to provide
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that news. all i'm saying is i think the liticians need to step back from that. their job is not that, tir job is to govern. so does that awer it? >> paragraph 60, mr. campbell. page 00829. where you deal with special advirs. >> yeah. >> it's your experience the relationships worked well, you explain. two lines from the bottom of the page. "i would add that on any sensitive issues special advisers as senior in the system as jonathan powell and i would not do anything without general direction and often specific checking from our employer. >> mm-hmm. >> so you can enlighten us as to what the practice was between 1997 and 2003.
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>> i did stay involved with tony blair andater with gordon brown. but for example, when people talk about blaming their advisers or we've talked about some of gordon's special advisers, i don't think it's enough for a politician to say well, they're freelance or they're doing their own thing. jonathan and i were both very, very senior in the system, but if we were dealing with difficult, sensitive issues we knew at all times we were representing the prime minister. and special advisers are very personal appointments by ministers or in our case the prime minister. and that's why i think there was a lot of justified skepticism following the evidence of one of your rect witnesses. >> i've been asked by one core participant to ask you questions about the black rod incident in 2002.
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the death of the queen mother, which was of course in april of 2002. and provided you with a little clip, mr. campbell, of materials. can we just get the chronology right? there was a piece in the "mail" on sunday -- >> no, i think the "ectator" was the first piece. >> right. >> april the 13th. peter oborne. how tony blair tried to muscle in on the mourning. totally untrue. >> the piece certainly one of the pieces you complained about to the pcc was published in the "ml" on sunday on the 14th of april -- >> that's correct. >> -- 2002. do you recall that? and we got a proof print of this story. downing street wanted tony blair to have a bigger role in the
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sermon to mark the queen mother's death. it was revealed last night. a senior blair aide telephoned blackrod and asked her if the prime minister would be able to meet the coffin when it arrived at westminster hall. sumner was told by blackwell that there was no role for mr. blair, made it clear he was not opposed to change his plan. the government officials wanted buckingham palace to reduce the lying in state om four days t three because they feared there would be insufficient numbers," paraphras paraphrased. and then toward the bottom of the page about ten lines from the bottom. blackrod, a former army officer, told her that miss politely but firmly that mr. blair would not greet the coffin, he's seen hundreds of -- as well the plan had already been drawn up.
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and on the next page four lines from the top, "downing street spokesman said last night we did not suggest the prime minister's role should be changed in any way, nor did we put pressure on anyone." >> correct. >> and you then complained to the editor in the "mail" on sunday on the 15 of april 2002. >> mm-hmm. >> so this was obviously the monday morning the following day. you say in the mail on sunday yesterday simon waters repeated the false claims. so that must be reference to the earlier claim in the spectator, is that right? >> yeah. >> that downing street sought to chait royal family's arrangements for the lying in state tone hans the prime minister's role. the prime ministers asked me to tell you that unless you print a correction and apology, which makes clear unequivocally that this story is untrue and you accept it to be untrue we'll be
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making a complaint to the pcc and clause 1 of the code. >> i think you made the complaint on the 24th of april, 2002 to the pcc. but there was an intervening letter from mr. wright othe 16th of april where he came out pointing, as it were. the third paragraph, "i did not believe it's in dispute clair sumner telephoned sir michael wilcox to discuss the arrangements. it's our information that mr. sumner indicated surprise that mr. blair would not be meeting the coffin and the royal family when they arrived at westminster hall. so michael told miss sumner that that was indeed the established ban, he was not prepared to change it. in fact, you did make one change. and then mr. wright asked three questions to be answered and finally, there was a letter
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by blackrod to the pcc which we see at the back of this file. it's dated the 8th of may, 2002. it came after a request by the pcc made the previous day to respond to your complaint. blackrod in thisetter effectively said that there were conversations with miss sumner and the efforts were made to change the plans. would you agree with that? >> if you look at page 3 of his statement, the indented top paragra paragraph, hwrites the statement that he gave to us, that we were then able to use to rebut these totally untrue stories. he says "in the immediate aftermath of the news of the death the queen mother was tacted by the staff to brief
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them on the pm's role. i did so in explaining t ceremony. at no stage was i ever asked to change these arrangements." so why on earth he told us one thing when as his letter then subsequently shows he clearly for whatever reason having this discussion with simon walters. but the point is that it became impossible because the pcc said that they were not in a position where they could adjudicate on fact. and and so we with all the other things going on said this is a complete waste of time and we dropped it, which of course the press took to say oh, that means the story was true. the story was untrue then and is untrue now. i've given it -- this was sent to me yesterday. i asked the cabinet office to dig out the file. and i sent to your team the copies of the correspondence on it from our perspective so that you do actually have the broader story. and how we handled it. >> what blackrod says toward the end of page 3, finally we come
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to the mail on sunday articles. here i did have contact with simon walters before publication. he came to see me on 11th april to research the story on the costs of the lying in state. operation. at the end of the interview made it cle that he had sources which in effect substantiated the underlying thrust of the "spectato "spectator's" original article. though i repeated my on the record statement i was surprised by the quality of information because i could not in truth deny the main force of his contentions. >> in which case it's very odd that he denied them on the road prior to that. so if you're interested in this you'd have to talk to blackrod because he does appear to be saying different things on the same piece of paper. all i know is that a very damaging story was run, first in the spectator, then the standard, then the mail on sunday and the story was completely and totally untrue. clair sumner, whose job in downey street was parliamentary liaison. she had to establish what the prime minister was meant to do
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on an event as important as the death of the queen mother. then he goes on in his letters to say they happen to be e prime minister's protection team that advanced wherever he goes. forgive me if i don't take this as seriously as the people who wrote at the time but this story was total nonsense. >> blackrod for better or worse on the last page says i find it rather difficult to fault the mail on sunday -- >> he's obously somebody who's very friendly with the mail on sundays and didn't want to say anything untoward about them. all i know is the story's untrue. >> then finally, i'm asked to put to you, you didn't reply to mr. wright's letters of the 12th and the 17th of june. >> i have no idea whether i did or i didn't. >> i'd like to think they would have included them had you -- i think that's as far as i can take. >> i think blackrod ended up taking a position on the pcc but i could be wrong about that. >> pardon me, mr. cam snbl.
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>> i think blackrod ended up taking a position on the pcc. >> i think you may be right. >> come on, mr. campbell, don't overdo it. another question i've been asked -- >> this wasn't one of the half dozen that i mentioned earlier that always gets raised. >> the other question i've put to you -- i'm asked to put to you, excuse me, is in paragra paragraph -- of your statement. >> yeah. >> you say "nobody with the prms prime minister's or my authority briefed the sun on election day in 2001." you look at the third volume of your diaries, page 567, entry for saturday the 31st of march,
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2001. you do ref to a conversation with trevor cavener in these terms. my chat with cavener had been written hard as a june election. then youove on to a different topic. and the first call of the day was db, that's mr. blunkette saying he was pissed off it came out in a newspaper like that. or maybe he was still on the same topic, namely, the timing of the election. >> i'd have to check. but i think that refers to a story about david blunkette's position in the government. i could be wrong. because i think he was moved after the election. but the point i make in my witness statement is valid. the sun ran a story -- look, it's obvious. now we have fixed term parmts. so this question may not arise. but the timing of the election
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is a story that every single political journalist is lookg for the whole time. and they speculated about it all the time. the truth is we had been planning to have the election on may the 3rd and it was postponed because of foot and mouth. trevor cavener had run a story earlier saying may the 3rd, election day, official. no didn't comerom us and nor did the subsequent story saying it was going to be on whatever date in june it turned out to be. and i think while i'm reflecting i was probably speaking to trevor cavener every day at this point. we were in the run-up to the election campaign. but at no point did i give anybody -- at the time anybody until the prime minister announced the election date, although by then we were frankly running out of dates. >> but some would say that it's fairlylear from that first sentence of the diary entry that you had a conversation with mr. cavener and he certainly gained the impression from it that the election was being put back to
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june. >> he may well have done, but what i didn't do is brief him on the election date. >> what's the difference, mr. cam snbl. >> the difference is h phones me up and says alastair -- just imagine being in my positi where i know the information. he thinks that he knows the information. he's trying to tease it out of me. and he reads body language and he reads the way that i say things. i don't want to mislead him. i never -- again, contrary to the sort of oborne thesis i never told him lies. but i sometimes didn't tell him everything that i knew. he reads the language. by then it was blindingly obvious when the election was going to be, frankly. >> if it wasn't going to be may, wasn't going to be july because they never are in july, it's going to be june.
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>> it became a huge contention because the mirror became convinced we'd given them the election date. and no such thing. didn't. >> can we look to the future, mr. campbell? it's 25 to 5:00. we have time do that. you pick it up in paragraph 32 of your statement. 00813. and just some ideas which we throw out. we're not going to cover all of them. we've read your statement. you say in paragraph 34 this is a very difficult area in which to regulate. you understand that. i'm interested in paragraph 36. >> you're suggesting there should be greater transparency. and the new regulator should be able to investigate the extent
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to which really opinion is being presented as fact. the extent to which they're fair and reasonable in their reporting. and the extent to which they're being sufficiently transparent in the interests which were driving their content. >> mm-hmm. >> how would one go about properly exploring these regulations without seriously impeding the preeminent concern, the freedom of the press? >> i think by being aware of thats a possible concern. but if you look at -- we talked earlier about the fact that every other walk of life has some sort of oversight and scrutiny and regulation some of the reports that the broadcasting regulator publishes from time to time would be similar to this. i'm simply suggesting that whichever body replaces the pcc as well as investigating individual complaints against a
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code -- and as i said in first statement i think 9 pcc code is a very good basis. but also to look at trends. you took evidence from the mccanns. had there been a regulator who as that story was developing could actually have said we are going to have an investigation into the way this is being covered, that might have had an effect, and i think it would have been an effect for the good. i mentioned some of the specific issues there. the editorial line about the bbc. i'm not saying you can't have a bias. but i think if an outside body were able to analyze whether they felt there were one -- and inevitably there's going to be some subjectivity attached to this. but when this inquiry filly writes its report, judgmentsare made. that's what pele are put in these positions to do. so i'm suggesting somebody,
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somebody's put in that position to make judgments so the public's better infmed. and i say laterhat as a result of this inquiry the public have learned and seen things that they didn't know about. i think that's been to the public good already. but if this body were able to say i'm concerned about this issue, i want to -- i'd like to interview an editor or an owner abt that, what on earth is wrong with that? i don't see anything wrong with it at all. i think it wou be good. good thing for the press. and i make the point that you would probably know more about this than i do but some of the regulation of the legal profession i think has probably strengthened the legal profession and it's been a mixture of statutory and non-statutory.
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>> if you compare the last sentence of paragraph 37 with the last sentence of paragraph 39, start with the last sentence of 39. you say, "if, for example, a paper repeatedly distorts the facts in support of a political goal -- stopping the paper from reporting that way, there's value in some respected body pointing out that's what's happening." if the facts were being distorted that would be a breach of clause one of the -- >> i haven't explained that very well. what i mean by that is for example, i talked earlier about the sun has a particular view on europe. or at the ment they have a particular view on ken clark and his fitness to be secretary of state. so you can take a fact, for example, the eurozone's in crisis. accept that's a fact.
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but then youan take that fact and you can turn it into a comment that justifies your position on europe. likize if you're ken clark. if a select committee report is published which is critical of the justice department, you can take that and you can splash all over your front page why clark has to go. i'm making the point that the facts will be there in the story somewhere. the distortion is in the way they take them then touild a commenwhich relates to a campaign they're running. i don't think you should stop newspapers from doing that. it's perfectly legitimate for newspapers to have strong positions. the fact is a fact. but i'm simply saying if you have an outside body that says actually, this paper has a position on europe, has a position on a particular politician, has a position on a particular political party -- i saw a bit about gus o'donald this morning and he was making a point about the bbc and the "times" d this is particularly relevant to this debate about what's being online.
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the public are absorbing all this stuff not necessarily knowing what the motivation of an owner is, what the motivation of an editor may be. and i think actually an outside body can help to bring thetrans are never going to shine upon themselves. history would suggest. >> is this what some of the ngos do? is it full fact and the media stands trusted, those sort of bodies get involved in that sort of thing? >> they do. but it's interesting that i mentioned the peter oborne piece in the british journalism review. there are some journalists who do this as well. but they tend as in that article to be treated as outsiders, oddballs. i think that what hacked off in full fact and the media standards trust and these bodies are representing is a genuine
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public concern about what the media has become and this loss of face and loss of trust in where fact ends and where comment begins. and i agree with what gus o'donald said this morning but i think it's naive of either of us to think you're ever go to change that and actually a part of me says you shouldn't want to change that. particularly in the internet age newspapers have to be able to take strong positions but you think there should be a greater ability for people or organizations to be able to have a come back against them when they are distorting not just fusing facts and comment but actually rin venting to suit i particular agenda. and we had that the whole time. and so did a lot of people in public life. >> i'm just trying to think through this, mr. campbell.
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when segregating fact from comments and fact of course is -- can be scrutinized now, but there are certain types of comments that you feel ought be scrutinized either because they may be a key to the motivations of the editors. is that right? alternatively the comments themselves are so distorted they are close to being perverse. and then so might sigh almost factually untrue. ishat it? >> yeah. and this is a difficult area. i talked in my first tness statement about the whole business of anonymous quotes. to my mind the fact a lot of them are invented. how's a regulator ever going to get to the bottom of that? a journalist says, well somebody said it to me, and you can't disprove it. that is true. but most people who've had a very high-profile, particularly in the political environment, know because we've all been on the receiving end stories which we know to be true.
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untrue. we just talked about one of them in relationship to black rod, where a civil servant was accused of doing something she just never did. and then i of course was accused having put her up to it. and then tony blair was accused of putting her up to it to put me up to it. based on anonymous quotes. maybe somebody did say something. but it's very difficult when you know what they said sun true. i don't know what a regulator does about that. but i think having a respected outside body that is le to investigate and lok at things thematically i think would be a useful addition to this area. now, the other area -- because of course you've got a problem. is that you're looking at the print industry, which is really challenged at the moment for reasons that are obvious. technological change and advance. that's accelerating. but why i think it's still
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important to keep the focus on the print industry is because these are e same people who to beair to them are having to and in some cases are successfully adapting to this technological revolution. so actually, if you do get the regulatory framework right for print journalism i think that will have a profound effect on the way the internet develops. >> this is not so much whether mr. remember lebedev made the point, it's not so much as whether your news comes on dead trees or through the -- >> tablet p. >> the tablet or whatever. the fact is it's about -- or may be about the thing that journalists do that nobody else does, which is to go out, to get stories, to put the facts together, and then to write about them in a way that is accessible to a wider
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population. which is perhaps different from those that are simply tweeting to one another or otherwise communicating on facebook. >> yeah, but otherwise the -- when we had the little break, and i was just sort of having a look at my phone and -- the guys from the bbc and itv and sky who are covering this, they're not here. they're outside. they're watching it. why don't they want to be in here? because that is now part of journalism as well. so they tweet, they write, they blog, they go on tevision. they are journalists. what i think is happening is we're going to end up in a position where there has to be a redefinition essentially of what a journalist is. i think it would be absurd to expect you to regulate, have regulation for every single person who's on facebook and
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twitter because then you're not far off from saying we have to regulate the content of text messaging and so forth. it's absurd. so i think there has to be a definition of what a journalist is, what a media organization is. and there, this is where i have some sympathy for the print industry, it's not just about the print industry. >> well, i'm sure that's right. the problem is as lord o'donnell made clear that you've not merely got to capture where we are at the moment but do it in such a way to where it's relevant 20 where you'll be in five years' time. >> and i think that's difficult because if you think that ten years ago facebook, google, twitter, youtube didn't even exist and nothey are dominant within this space and the newspapers are struggling to catch up. and as rupert murdoch himself said, in their mind being ripped off the whole time for content. that's a difficult -- now,
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you've been given the specific area but i think in terms of this debate it's developing so quickly that -- but i've heard you many times and i read you in the transcripts talking about the elephant in the room. maybe for a while the elephant kind of has to be parked a bit because i still do think if you get the press -- the new pcc whenever that becomes, a however it's constituted, if that works better than its predecessors, i do think that will be a big impact on the way the rest of it, the blogosphere and so forth develops because again, mooeg people aren't stupid. they can work out who knows what they're on about. when you see which of these websites get lots of traffic and which don't, it does tend to be the ones that invest properly in journalism and do real stories and so forth, and hopefully the best get to the top. >> well, the great problem is
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that you so define the issue that it is incapable of any sensible resolution. and that's a pron. >> but i sort of sense that the press who have -- who i since fear most, what you may conclude, are hoping that first you and then the politicians will say this is so complicated and it's changing so fast we can't do anything about it. i think if nothing is done given how we got to where we are now and the broader cultural issues that we talked about, i think then we will be missing probably the only opportunity that we'll have a for a generation to get this right. and i total understand what gus o'donald's saying, but it's really not the role of
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legislators, let alone an inquiry, to say let's predict what the world's going to be like in ten years and legislate for that. they have to take a decision based upon what's happening now. >> in lord hant's proposals, paragraphs 41 to 43, you make a number of points there. paragraph 41 i paraphrase without obvious carrots it's hard to see what good will and good faith will bring everyone into the sheep pen, as it were. paragraph 43. third line. perfectly possible to have a systems regulation accountability which carried the authority of the government. but independent of government,
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paiament, commercial-invested interest. and then you furnish us with analogies oof regulatory spheres. and then you have some full authority. what do you say about the word structure? >> what do you mean by that? >> in other words, it's perfectly acceptable to have a system of regulation that structure frt government in part can confer. >> yes. let's take the legal services out leading to the legal services board. i think the fact that it's flown from an act of parliament gives it great authority. and i think the fact that parliament then can have recall upon its effective neness is a d thing. i think the fundamental weakness of the pcc has always been the fact that it's a self-regulatory body run by the people
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regulating it. so the regator is regulating those who have been regulated. without any real parliamentary oversight of any kind. >> what lord hunt saywas that if you even go down that route there are enough parliamentarians who will really want to screw the press down. >> i know that's his view. and i say in my statement i saw lord nton, i know tt's his view. it's not my view. i think people are seized enough of how serious this issue is. and i think -- i'm worried the other way, to frank. i'm worried that too many of the parliamentarians just want to turn away from this. the ones -- there's plenty who get a high profile with saying what they say on the let's regulate side of the fence. but i think my worry in relation
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to michael gove and some of the political leaders just want this to go away. >> and then mr. campbell, will you identify what you've described as potential flaws in lord hunt's proposals? first of those you've already identified paragraph iragraph 4 paper is under no obligation to -- lack of detail about how the propose the contact will work in practice and sanctions and accountability. the fear that the industry would to any event manage to -- once aga general agreement was reached and followed by negotiations with the desmond problem. finally you refer to aspects of the new system which are in your opinion in common with the cold. >> yes. >> are there any points you wish to develop or amplify -- >> i think the funding is
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difficult because press boff is it's back to their system and they pay for. so how would you fund this, perhap it does have to be a claim upon the public first. i think the editor's code has always been a major flaw. the fact we're servinging people who decide what the editor's code is is just so obously a flaw in the whole system. -6 i think that lord hunt, he's doing a very good job trying to make sense of this but he's an absolute passionate believer in regulations. he's trying to get the last chance saloon. d i think they've had so many last chance saloons i think the public would think it's odd. let's have a pcc but call it something different. >> i've asked of you this final
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question. it's on a slightly earlier point. do you think that the existing editor's code adequately separates fact from opinion in clause 1? >> you'd have to remind me what clause 1 says other than its commitment to accuracy. is it fact, comment, and conjecture? is that the -- comme >> comment and conjecture are outside clause 1. but fact is part of accuracy and within clause 1 and within therefore the jurisdiction of the pcc. i think that fairly summarizes the position. >> i can't claim to carry the pcc code around in my head. >> maybe it's too precise a poi point. >> i think your quality's cut on the screen.
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>> yes, the free are free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture, and fact. >> i think that's a very good princip principle. >> well, thank you very much, mr. campbell. >> mr. campbell, thank you
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